Spring, grief, and success

by Veronica Foale on August 29, 2015

in Me

The rain fell wet and heavy as I dragged myself out of bed. First light peeked over the hills and I was grateful for it, grateful the light appears earlier each day, grateful that while it rained this morning, we’ve had a little sunshine lately, and spring is coming.

I dragged myself out of bed, double checked my market boxes, forced myself to eat toast. Tired children sat around the fireplace while I got ready to leave.

If I hadn’t had a market, I might have spent the day curled up in pajamas, with netflix and pikelets and hot chocolates. But there it is. I have responsibilities, and so I left my family at home while I headed out to work.

I have markets most weekends now, and when I’m not at a market, I’m frantically trying to keep up with demand. More soaps, more orders. I’m not complaining – success was the whole point of this venture, but sometimes I miss lazy weekends, and whole days spent in a patch of warmth with a good book.

My youngest child is three now, tall and gangly, running around like a maniac, demanding things. I have this idea in my head: if I can just hold on until she’s in school, maybe there will be time to do everything I want to do. Soap, writing, reading. Maybe.

I’m lying to myself, I know this. Things don’t get easier as your children get older. The questions just get more complicated and involved. “Mum, why do people have sex? Can dogs feel sad? Why do you look so tired?” At the very least, the three year old is a simple child. She wants milk and cuddles and cartoons. Hot cheese sandwiches and peanut butter on apples. She wants to know why she can’t draw on the walls in sharpie, and where her purple baby is, and can she share her breakfast with the dog. Simple. Intense, but simple.

Someone asked me today if soapmaking is all I do. No, I write things too, I replied. And then realised, that’s almost a lie now. I haven’t written anything in too long, I’m all full to bursting with unspoken words. I miss it. Success is never to be complained about, and yet …

My brain is breaking again. I can feel it. I’m holding it at bay with vitamin D and music and hot chocolates drunk in an almost-spring garden. But there’s grief as I head into the spring – grief worse than last year, and the year before. Or maybe I was medicated last year, the year before. I can’t remember anymore.

It’s been six years since my grandmother died, and I miss her more as I head into spring this year. I miss the unconditional love – when so much of my extended family barely likes me with conditions attached, I miss her. I miss her delight in my children, and her love of spring, and the way she showed up whenever we needed her.

It’s a funny thing, grief. Less linear than you’d believe, but there you go. It’s nearly spring, I’m full to bursting with words and emotions, and my grief is harder to deal with.

Outside, the world is full of muddy puddles, wet chickens, and cold crisp air. The warmer weather will hit soon, leaving the plants pushing upwards as fast as they can. I plan to join them, standing in the sunshine, stretching as high as I can.

I have work to concentrate on. Soap to make, orders to fill.

And spring is coming, soon.

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A steep learning curve

by Veronica Foale on March 30, 2015

in Me

WARNING: TMI enclosed. Please for all that is good do not read if:

You are family and it’s going to make you feel awkward to read about my vagina.

Your kids go to school with my kids and you’re going to be unable to look me in the eye at school drop off and make polite conversation when necessary.

You’re not interested in my writing.


[click to continue…]

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Eight days.

by Veronica Foale on January 26, 2015

in Children, Family, Me

We have eight days left in the school holidays and I am counting the hours. onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightdays. Everyone is bored, sick of each other. The screaming starts again and I clench my hands, breathe deep and remind my eldest child yet again how to speak nicely, kindly, like you might actually get what you want. Over and over, around and around.

I cannot wait for quiet hours with only the two year old at home. I’d like to say I’ll miss them, but I won’t.

I love my children, and their being away from me merely increases the energy I have for them. It’s a win/win situation.

I teach myself a new skill: lotion making. My refusal to use palm oil or its derivatives means I get to craft my own recipe rather than using a tried and true beginner example. Carefully I measure everything to the nth degree, weighing, pouring, heating, holding.

All the build up and when the time is right I pour the jugs together. One quick blend and it’s magic, thick and creamy, whiter than white. Easier than an orgasm, easier than soap. All the work is in the waiting, the build up.

I clean up, exhausted suddenly. My hands are covered in cream and I am looking forward to doing this again.

A little like good sex.

My middle child, my son, my adventurous intelligent gorgeous boy had a birthday and I realised in my exhaustion and attempts to make it the Best Day Ever, I completely forgot to mention him on my blogs. And I wonder, later, will he read my archives and feel the lack? The inevitable middle child syndrome, even as we strove to make everything amazing for him. Will he read the archives and instead of remembering how present I was on the day he turned six, will he merely notice I didn’t celebrate him online?

I don’t know if I feel guilty or not.

Bedtime was two hours ago and that is obviously why I have a two year old draped over my legs while I type. Her cries of Paper Me! and PEN ME! are demands which are easily met as sleep fails to come. Holidays are meant to be healing, soothing, but instead we’re all tired from being on top of one another. I fight my claustrophobia in a house which is too small, and summer weather too awful to escape outside.

We sit on top of each other, music and electronics and fights clashing against the background of playing and laughter and two dogs trying to play under all our feet. It’s beautiful destructive gorgeous chaos and I am stuck in the middle of it, surrounded by children like they’re waves and I’m an island and they’re slowly eating away at my shores.

I work and work and work, sinking myself into anything to distract myself from the stress, the chaos, the exhaustion. If I can just ignore everything for a little while longer, we might be able to make some money and extend the house, add more space, set up a caravan based studio for soaping in.

Pipe dreams, but still I work work work. It helps that I love what I do, the working with my hands and brain tied together in a beautiful intricate dance of science and art.

Cosmetic chemistry, man, it’s beautiful.

And there’s chocolate hidden in my desk drawers, so it will all be okay in the end.


Buy our luxury soap here. You know you want to.

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Distraction abounds

by Veronica Foale on January 24, 2015

in Me

Dinner needs cooking. I know this. I know this every single day and yet, there is it. 5pm sneaks up and suddenly it’s there and overwhelming with the lack of possibility. Dinner needs cooking, again.

I wake up in the morning and I am a whirlwind spinning in place. Can’t settle, can’t concentrate. Around and around and around I go, bouncing from task to task until three hours later I realise I’ve forgotten to eat breakfast and my cup of tea sits forgotten and cold on the edge of the bench.

And so I force myself to sit, to work through it. Paperwork first, then recipe creation, a new cup of tea twice microwaved sits to the edge of my laptop. I tweak a recipe and then I have to stand up to look for my recipe notebook.

Three seconds later, I’m half way to my other work space and I’ve forgotten what I was doing. Maybe it was lost in the cries of mummy, needa bottle and can I have a biscuit please mum, and pillow me, and where’s my game, has anyone seen it?

Or maybe it’s just gone and I’m left spinning in circles again in the kitchen, forgetting what I was doing, until I head back to my laptop where the recipe remains open, waiting for me to transcribe it.

And we start again.

Around and around in circles I go while I fight my brain every step of the way.

The payoffs: obsessive memory. amazing information recall. being able to work through a soap recipe on pure muscle memory because I love it and I’m obsessed. hyperfocus when I read.

I’m not sure it’s worth it when I’m standing in the kitchen again, peering into another cold cup of forgotten tea and trying to remember if I had lunch, while I eat all the chocolate biscuits because I need something easy and fast to bring my blood sugar up before I throw up.

So I spin, and I sit, and I dance around, forgetting everything I’m meant to be doing, unable to focus for more than a few minutes. My brain twitches and I stand up, walk around, flick my fingers over and over, fast, faster.

It’s exhausting.

I want so desperately to be one of those women who is organised. I want to steadily make my way through tasks, ticking them off. I want to remember the permission slips and lunch orders every Tuesday, and the home readers, and hats and to name all their jumpers. I want to remember we eat dinner every single day instead of being surprised every evening with the knowledge I should have planned ahead better.

My brain is broken and having to fight it every moment of the day is a battle I keep losing.

There are things I can do, diagnoses to pursue, but who has the time (and just quietly, the money), to seek out a psychologist and then a psychiatrist for everything? I’m already stretched thin, pushed to my limits.

But I want more. I want success, and a firmly comfortable middle class lifestyle. I want to love what I do and earn all the money. I want money in the bank, a safety net for us all.

I want things to just work for me.

And my brain makes everything so much harder than it has to be.

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The Ghosts That Haunt Me

by Veronica Foale on June 24, 2013

in Me

I see dead people flicker past
the corner of my eye
as I potter around the house.
They’re particularly persistant
when I’m in the bathroom
and naked.
Perhaps it’s the ghost
of a dirty old man.
But I hope not.

I felt someone touch my face,
and I hoped
(wished, wanted)
that it was my grandmother;
dead four years today.

The lights flicker sometimes
when I speak of her.
I like to imagine that she’s here
watching my children grow,
overseeing the baby learn to crawl.

My daughter’s eyes are the exact colour
that hers were.
I look into them
and wonder if
anyone can see
my grandmother in her,
or if it’s just me.

I see ghosts
at the edges of my vision.
They dance, taunting me
with their insubstantiality.
When I turn to look,
I notice that the cats are watching too
and it gives me hope that
I’m not imagining it.

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